John Tortorella, self-deprecating in a way he never once was in five years in New York, took the words out of everyone’s mouths Monday, which is not such an easy thing to do.

“What is fair?” the coach of the Canucks replied when asked if it is fair to draw any conclusions in comparing his team’s lack of success with the success the Rangers are experiencing under Alain Vigneault in Year 1 of the cultural exchange behind the benches of the two franchises. “You’re going to make your own opinion.

“It’s kind of a unique thing with me and Alain. I’m losing games so I’m an idiot and he’s winning games so he’s a smart guy. Rightfully so.”

The Rangers and Canucks go at it Tuesday night, with New York closing in on a playoff spot and Vancouver on the eve of destruction, on the verge of failing to make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

The problems have been manifest here, and none of it has anything to do with the coach’s relationship with the media, just as none of what got Tortorella fired in New York had anything to do with that either. By all accounts, Tortorella has been a charmer behind the podium.

The issue is the charm eroded quickly behind the bench and in the room, the only places where it really counts. Forget the fiasco in which the coach charged the Calgary locker room in an attempt to confront Bob Hartley that January night, even if ownership and management aren’t likely to forget that anytime soon.

Tortorella’s narrow vision has done him and his team in this year. He has become the worst kind of zealot behind the bench, believing his way is the only way to win games regardless of his playing personnel, even if that means pounding square pegs into round holes. He is a zealot, a true believer that grinding, blocking shots and packing the defensive end is the one and only route to success.